The number of retirees receiving pensions over $100,000 from the New York State and Local Retirement System (NYSLRS) exceeded 3,000 for the first time during the system’s 2016 fiscal year, according to data uploaded today to SeeThroughNY, the Empire Center’s transparency website.
A total of 3,230 retirees collected pensions over $100,000 during the fiscal year ending March 31. Among them were 1,939 retired uniformed police officers or firefighters, more than half of whom retired from Nassau County (741) or Suffolk County (312).
“When the stock market doesn’t meet lofty investment goals set by state officials, it’s taxpayer dollars that make up the difference,” said Tim Hoefer, executive director of the Empire Center. “Year after year, we’ve watched hard-earned tax dollars funneled into this expensive, unsustainable pension system.”
The number of six-figure pensioners in fiscal 2016, up 10 percent from the previous year, includes a small number of pre-2016 retirees whose previous maximum pensions were boosted above $100,000 by a $180 cost-of-living adjustment. In 2015, there were 2,931 NYSLRS retirees, including 1,777 former police officers and firefighters, collecting $100,000 or more.
The biggest pension went to Dr. Leonard Barrett, Nassau University Medical Center’s former chief of thoracic surgery and director of surgical critical care, who collected $312,375. The medical center was once operated by Nassau County, making employees hired during the county’s ownership eligible for public pensions. Statewide, another 12 pensions exceeded $200,000.
The data include pensions records for 400,313 retirees from state government, public authorities, counties, towns, villages, cities not including New York City, special districts and school districts.
The Empire Center, based in Albany, is an independent, non-profit, non-partisan think tank dedicated to promoting policies to make New York a better place to live, work and do business.